MEPS 223:167-177 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps223167

Stable isotope analysis of food sources for salt marsh snails

Kengo Kurata1,*, Hiroshi Minami2, Eisuke Kikuchi3

1Biological Institute, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8578, Japan
2National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries,
3Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University
*Present address: Ecosystem Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokushima, 2-1 Minamijyosanjimacho, Tokushima 770-8506, Japan. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Food sources for the deposit-feeding gastropods Assiminea japonica and Angustassiminea castanea (Gastropoda: Assimineidae) were estimated using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios. We collected animals and potential food materials in reed marshes of the Nanakita River estuary, the eastern part of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Feeding experiments were also conducted to confirm whether snails assimilate 4 types of diets. The stable carbon isotope ratios of both assimineid species (mean ± 1 SD: A. japonica, -20.7 ± 0.3‰; A. castanea, -19.8 ± 0.5‰) were closer to that of deposited organic matter from lagoon water (-20.7 ± 0.3‰) than to those of reed litter (-25.4 ± 0.1‰) and the surface (-26.3 ± 0.1‰). The snails that were fed deposited organic matter showed δ13C values similar to the control animals before feeding experiments for both species. The δ13C val the snails fed litter or soil diet, however, revealed that these snails were able to assimilate organic matter from reed detritus under laboratory conditions. These findings suggest that the salt marsh snails utilized mainly deposited organic matter from lagoon water in the field. Microalgae such as phytoplankton and benthic diatoms in deposited matter are considered to be important food sources for 2 species of assimineids inhabiting salt marshes of the Nanakita River estuary.

KEY WORDS: Assiminea · Gastropod · Assimilation · Food source · Salt marsh · Stable isotope

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